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State Certification

What is state certification?

State certification is a program of the State of Washington. The purpose is to enhance procurement opportunities for certified businesses participating in state-funded projects or working with state agencies, local governments, school districts, and public universities. 

Why apply for state certification?

State Certification is a program of the State of Washington. The purpose is to enhance procurement opportunities for certified businesses participating in state-funded projects or working with state agencies, local governments, school districts, and public universities. Projects include any work or product state agencies, or other entities, wish to buy from private companies. This includes a wide variety of different types of businesses, such as construction, consulting, training, translation services, supplies and equipment, and many other industries and services. 

Becoming state certified also makes you eligible to apply for the Linked Deposit Program which can decrease interest rates on small business loans up to 2%.

What types of state certification does OMWBE offer?

OMWBE offers five types of state certification. Each certification provides the same benefits, with certifications being broken down by the identity of the business owner.

MBE - Minority Business Enterprise – owned by minorities

WBE - Woman Business Enterprise – owned by women

MWBE - Minority Women Business Enterprise – owned by minority women

CBE - Combination Business Enterprise – owned by women and minorities

SEDBE - Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Business Enterprise – owned by non-minority men who are found to be socially and economically disadvantaged on a case by case basis.

How do I know if I qualify for certification?

The business must be:

  • For profit.
  • Licensed to do business in Washington State.
  • Able to perform the core services necessary to fulfill a contract in the business’s eligible owner(s) area of specialty or expertise.
  • A small business based on U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards, which is measured in two ways:

The eligible owner(s) must:

  • Be a minority or woman. Minority is defined as African American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, or Native American. Other individuals may be found to be socially and economically disadvantaged on a case-by-case basis; please click here or call our office for more information.
  • Own at least 51% of the business and show contribution of capital and expertise.
  • Control the managerial and day-to-day operations.
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident.
  • Be economically disadvantaged. “Economically disadvantaged” is generally defined has having a personal net worth less than $1.32 million, not including a person's primary residence or an applicant business. There are other guidelines, please call our office for more information.

How long will the application process take?

It takes about 60 days from receipt of the fee to process your state certification application. It also depends on the complexity and completeness of your application. Here’s what you can expect:

  1. Within a week of receiving your online application, we will email you to let you know we have assigned your application to a certification analyst.
  2. An analyst will review your application and documents, and call you in about two weeks with questions and any needed additional information.
  3. After your analyst receives this additional information, it takes about 2 to 4 weeks to analyze your file.
  4. Your application then goes through final review, which takes about 1 to 2 weeks.
  5. We will email you a letter once we have made a final decision on your certification.

Application tips

  1. Be responsive to additional information requests. Check your email for correspondence.
  2. Be specific when writing your proposed business description. Procurement officials and prime contractors search our online directory for key words related to the goods and services they want to purchase.
  3. If in doubt, call us (360) 664-9750.  You may also send an email to technicalassistance@omwbe.wa.gov.  The most common delays occur because of an incomplete application or response to an additional information request. We are here to help you!

Start your State Certification